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Visit Jura, France
If you enjoyed our Alsace Road Trip, you are going to love touring the Jura region by car. The Jura is a department of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté in Eastern France, named after the Jura Mountains. This is an incredible region of amazing landscapes, fairytale waterfalls, and picturesque villages, perfect for nature lovers.
The Jura region is not well known by foreign tourists (yet!), so it does not see Alsace’s crowds. If you are looking for the perfect weekend getaway from Paris, far from the big cities’ hustle and bustle, the Jura is the place to go!
This 3-day Jura road trip is one of the best road trips in France. Read more about road tripping in France:
Road Trip Jura – Overview
If you are looking for pretty villages, gorgeous nature, and scenic drives in France, consider this Jura road trip from Paris that lasts three days.
- Start: Paris
- Finish: Dole
- Duration: 3 days
- Suggested Route: Paris – Baume-les-Messieurs – Château-Chalon – Dole
- Total distance: 409 km, 6-hour drive in total
- Regions covered: Bourgogne-Franche-Comté
- Best for: landscapes, small towns, hiking
Road Trip Through the Jura France Map
3-Day Jura Road Trip Itinerary
The starting point of this itinerary is Paris, where you can decide to spend a few days before the road trip. If this is your first time in Paris, check out this article to decide how many days to stay in Paris. This Paris Trip Planner will help you to decide where to stay and what to do.
For this Jura road trip from Paris, you don’t need the car until you leave the French capital. If you need to hire a car, wait until then to pick up your rental car in Paris.
For this road trip Jura, we recommend the shoulder seasons (spring and fall). The colors are wonderful, the waterfalls are working in full power, and you avoid the crowds. We don’t recommend making this Jura road trip in winter: the Jura is the coldest region of France, plus most of the sites mentioned below are closed during wintertime.
A Bit of Geology . . .
The Jura is a land so original and specific from a geologic point of view that it gave rise to the name “Jurassic” by eminent scientists of the 19th century. Jurassic means the geological period of the formation of limestone and marine rocks.
The geological history of the Jura began more than 200 million years ago, and it continues today! The landscapes’ singularity reveals the incredible richness of the past times: mountains, blind valleys, plains, waterfalls, are the witnesses of this (geological) tumultuous past.
During much of the secondary era (Triassic, Jurassic, and early Cretaceous times) the Jura was a shallow sea dotted with islands (carbonated platforms), bordering the Thetys Ocean, which occupied the space of the current Alps. Its margins were inhabited by the giant reptiles of the time: the dinosaurs! Traces of their crossings are still visible on the sites of Loulle or Coisia.
Day 1 | Paris to Baume-les-Messieurs
The hardest part of this first day is to leave Paris, the traffic in the city is so horrible! We recommend leaving Paris very early in the morning to avoid traffic jams.
The drive from Paris east to Baume-Les-Messieurs is 4 hours (410 km) but the time to reach Baume-les-Messieurs is definitely longer if you are stuck in the Parisian traffic.
Morning in Baume-les-Messieurs
The first stop of this road trip is Baume-les-Messieurs. This is a picturesque village – one of the few Jura villages with the label ‘most beautiful village of France’ –, and you are going to love it.
Baume-Les-Messieurs is a commune located in a reculée (steephead or blind valley). The reculée is a typical formation of the Jura geology, of which the valley of Baume-Les-Messieurs is a superb example.
GOOD TO KNOW: Formerly, a sea named Tethys covered the Jura region. For millions of years, marine sediments lined the seabed to form strata of sedimentary rock, the strata that would later become the Jura Plateau. Rain, snow infiltrated the faults of this limestone, creating a network of underground rivers and caves. This ‘karstic network’ is at the origin of the plateau’s collapse, forming the landscape that we can see today.
Baume-les-Messieurs is beautiful, charming and even if it only takes a couple of hours to visit, it is the perfect introduction to the Jura region.
Baume’s main tourist attraction is the Imperial Benedictine Abbey, founded in the 8th century. It is from this abbey that in 909, Abbot Bernon and a few monks left to found Cluny.
During the visit, one can see the evolution of the abbey from an architectural point of view. The existing buildings and the three courtyards were built between the 9th to 18th centuries.
From April 1st to September 30, the abbey organizes guided visits (45 mn). Unfortunately, it is only possible to explore the church and the courtyards without a guide at this time of the year.
Afternoon at La Cascade des Tufs
After lunch, head to the Cascade des Tufs located a couple of kilometers south of Baume. There is a car park right in front of the waterfall, but the landscape is amazing and the fall colors so lovely that we recommend walking.
There is a signposted trail from Baume to the waterfall that goes through the forest. Because the soil was a bit wet and muddy from the past rains, we decided to follow the road instead.
Cascade des Tufs is one of the most beautiful waterfalls of the Jura region. This waterfall is named after its tufa deposits, an important habitat for plants, algae, and mosses which are trapped and coated with limestone creating a petrifying wall.
The waterfall’s front view is the best, especially after some days of rain. There, a little path climbs up to the top of the waterfall for another beautiful perspective.
Accommodation in Baume is scarce and expensive so we recommend staying in Doucier for your first night in the Jura. The hotel La Maison du Lac Chalain has an excellent location, close to the sites to visit the following day, and its on-site restaurant always gets excellent reviews.
La Maison du Lac Chalain did not disappoint us: the dinner, the Jura wine, and the cheese – all homemade or produced around the corner – were delicious! This is definitely a great way to finish the first day of this Jura road trip.
Day 2 | Jura’s Lakes and Waterfalls
Morning hike to Le Belvédère des 4 Lacs
The hike to the Belvédère des 4 lacs and Pic de l’Aigle is oe of the best things to do in Jura France is. The Belvédère des 4 Lacs is probably the best viewpoint in the Jura department, so you cannot miss it!
There are two ways to visit the Bevédère des 4 lacs viewpoint:
- As part of a round hike (12 Km) starting from La Fromagerie, in the village of Les Frasnois, where you can park the car;
- By car to the car park in the village of Chaux du Dombief. From there, it’s just a 5-minute walk to the viewpoint.
The hike is easy, and it takes around 4 hours in total, with a picnic break and many stops to take pictures and admire the views.
The first stop of the hike is the Belvédère des 3 Lacs. From this belvédère the views over Lac Ilay with its island (a former priory), Lac Grand Maclu, and Lac Petit Maclu are very impressive. Just behind, some more steps lead to the summit of Pic de l’Aigle, with its orientation table. From there, it is possible to see the Jura Mountains and the Mont Blanc on a clear day.
From this point, a path takes you to the Belvédère des 4 Lacs for more fantastic views. From this viewpoint, you can also see Lac Narlay, which is a little bit further.
After admiring the lake views from above, walk down to the foot of the lakes. This part of the trail is steep, so we recommend using trekking poles.
After walking a few meters along the D75 (there’s a pedestrian /bikes path), take the trail that borders the lakes back to the Fromagerie. This is a beautiful stroll, and it is great to see the lakes also from this point of view. This part of the path seems to be quite popular among the locals to walk the dogs or enjoy some fresh air.
Afternoon hike through the Cascades du Hérisson
La Fromagerie is also the starting point of the hike through the Cascades du Hérisson, a beautiful trail that follows 31 falls and waterfalls. This is a 4 km hike (one way), with a slope of 255m.
Most of the time, the trail is on the shade – wet and slippery – so be sure to wear good walking shoes!
Les Cascades du Hérisson is also accessible from the lower part, through La Maison des Cascades (main entrance to the site, information point, and shop). However, the car park at Maison des Cascades is charged, at least during the high season, while the car park at the Fromagerie is always free.
After the hikes, drive to Château-Chalon, another of the Jura villages with the label ‘most beautiful village of France,’. For your night in Château-Chalon, book at Les Relais des Abbesses, a beautiful historic property in the heart of the village. The hotel has a terrace with magnificent views over the Jurassic plateau, perfect for a sunset drink.
Day 3 | Château-Chalon
Morning in Château-Chalon
Château-Chalon is a picturesque village perched on the edge of a cliff, watching for centuries over the surrounding blind valleys.
The surrounding countryside and vineyards are beautiful to explore, too, especially with the fall colors.
Apart from the village’s spectacular setting, Château-Chalon’s abbey and its ancient buildings are very lovely. In addition to the ‘most beautiful villages of France’ label, Château-Chalon is one of Franche-Comté’s ‘characterful villages.’
Château-Chalon’s vineyards produce Vin Jaune, also known as the yellow gold of the Jura. This is a dry Jura wine with complex walnut and honey aromas. It is made exclusively from Savagnin grapes and has the distinction of being preserved in 62 cl bottles.
At the end of the main street, behind the abbey, there’s l’Ecole d’Autrefois (the School of the Past). This the village’s former school kept intact for the last 70 years and used today as a museum.
In this school, you can try to write with the quill, read old books or write on the blackboard. Visitors like to play the teacher and the bad students, at l’Ecole d’Autrefois everybody immediately finds his role!
L’École d’Autrefois is one of the top things to do in Jura, France. Click here for the opening times and other info (website in French).
After the visit to Château-Chalon, drive to Dole, the last stop of this Jura road trip. Depending on your plans after this road trip, book one night or two at Hotel de la Cloche, a charming property with an excellent location for exploring the city.
Day 3 | Dole
Day in Dole
Spend the last day of this Jura road trip in Dole, a picturesque city in the historical region of Franche-Comté.
Dole was the County of Burgundy’s capital, independent of France until King Louis XIV annexed it to the crown in the 17th century. Dole is also known to be the birthplace of the famous scientist Louis Pasteur, and you can visit the house-museum where he spent the first years of his life.
Today Dole is a picturesque city bordered by the Doubs river, a city of canals and an interesting architecture from the 16th century. Dole’s old center is a confusion of alleyways edged by Renaissance homes with turrets and courtyards.
The list of Dole’s main tourist attractions includes the Collégiale Notre-Dame, l’Hôtel-Dieu, and rue du Collège de l’Arc. But this is a place where you will like to forget the maps and get lost enjoying its picturesque streets and canals, full of surprises.
Dole has a good choice of restaurants, but they all seem to be booked on Saturday nights. If during your day wanderings you find a restaurant that you like, book it on the spot.
So, what are you waiting for? Book this Jura road trip today!